Dogwood 2018 Photography Challenge: Weeks 24-27

Wow, seems like I haven’t posted these for a while! Here are some of the latest…

Week 24 – Composition: Contrast [Shot with iPhone 6s]
 An easy way to make a photo more interesting is to introduce some form of stark contrast: liquid/solid, hard/soft, delicate/brash.

We had a busy weekend and were running out of time for this challenge, but the broad white wall of a studio in Hollywood created the perfect blank canvas for a contrasting play of light and shadow from a nearby tree.

Dogwood Week 24

Week 25 – Technical: Starburst [Shot with Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6]
Create a very strong focal point and add an entirely new dimension of interest to your image using a starburst. Continue reading


Eating In: Pink Lemonade Bars for Book Club

The Boy and I joined a book club a few months ago – I’ve aways been a reader, but this encourages me to read things outside of my normal comfort zone since other people are usually the ones picking the book. The way it works is if you choose the book, you host the monthly meeting, which is how the Boy and I ended up hosting the meet-up for his pick, Naomi Alderman’s The Power.

The Power Book Club

The Power is, in extremely short summary, a speculative novel about what would happen if women had more power than men – in this case, specifically the power to produce a deadly electrical charge at will. It’s very interesting and very good, both as a gripping story and as a piece of fiction that makes you think about the world (so all in all, good for book clubs).

The Boy happened to be out-of-town in the days leading up to our book club meeting, so in between frantically working to finish the book (it’s so popular I couldn’t get my hands on it until later than I usually do in these situations), I planned a tongue-in-cheek spread of snacks that fell under two themes: “electricity” and “pink.” Continue reading

Dogwood 2018 Photography Challenge: Weeks 22-23

Week 22 – Creative: Door [Shot with Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM]
A symbol of transition, a door or a gate provide a passage way.

I took a leaf out of an old 2017 challenge, and made my “door” photo more interesting with a magical fairy light emerging from it and darting through my hallway.

Dogwood Week 22

Week 23 – Vision: No Peeking [Shot with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM]
Shoot as if you were using a film camera. That means that you will not look at the photographs you’ve taken until they are downloaded on your computer. Continue reading

Layover Life: 6 Hours in Oslo

As with our flight to Spain and Morocco, our return flight had a long enough layover to leave the airport – this time, in Oslo! Norway has an excellent train system that sent us quickly from the airport to the heart of the city in about 30 minutes, giving us plenty of time to get a quick taste (we’re already plotting our return…).

View from Akershus Fortress

We got off the train right by the Oslo Opera House (free), a beautiful modern building on the water that was practically glowing in November afternoon light (the light there was truly incredible, since it was basically golden hour the whole time we were there thanks to Norway’s particular seasonal daylight). We walked around, taking photos and taking in the view (note: it’s cold there in November!).

We then continued our walk around the city, strolling along the water and through the Akershus Fortress (free), a military area and castle with large grounds that snake through a variety of historical stone buildings.

Akershus Fortress

We ended up grabbing a bite to eat at the Eufemia Bar in the Thon Hotel Opera near the train station, where we notably tried reindeer and lingonberries (tasty!).


And we couldn’t leave Oslo without trying Aquavit – luckily, the Norwegian Aquavit Bar in the airport (believe it or not) provided the opportunity! (We did not like it.)



  • DO: Take in the gorgeous architecture of the Oslo Opera House
  • DO: Wander the grounds and look at the views from the Akershus Fortress
  • DRINK: Try the Scandinavian liquor aquavit (at your own risk!)


Out and About in Marrakech

We only spent one day in Marrakech, so at some point we’d like to go back and see more of it  – especially as by the time we arrived, we were starting to figure out some of the nuances of traveling in Morocco (you better believe we had airport transfers to and from the hotel). Still, we managed to do enough in one day that I figured I’d round it all up here for you!

Marrakech Door

Palace of the Bahia

The main activity of our visit was exploring the Palace of the Bahia (10 dirhams),  a nineteenth century palace (and big tourism site) in Marrakech. Continue reading

Dogwood 2018 Photography Challenge: Weeks 20-21

Week 20 – Composition: From Below [Shot with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM]
Get down low; below 2 feet, and change your perspective. Look out or look up.

We were on a mini-vacation in Portland the final few days of this challenge, so while we were wandering through a public garden I plopped down in the dirt to capture these tiny little daisies from a new angle.

Dogwood Week 20

Week 21 – Technical: Product [Shot with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM]
Imagine your image in a catalog or a magazine. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Continue reading

Where We Stayed: Marrakech

After Fes, our next stop on the grand Spain & Morocco tour was Marrakech – due to flight scheduling, we were only able to spend one day and one night there, but thanks to our inadvertent make-each-place-you-stay-better-than-the-last plan, our one night was at the supremely beautiful Riad Idra.

Note that we booked through Chase, and the pricing reflects what we paid – make sure to check on your own.

Riad Idra
105 Derb Tizougarine, Dar el Bacha, Marrakech Medina, Marrakech, Morocco
$190/night for the Ahlam Room

Riad Idra

As mentioned in a previous post, we managed to get ourselves quite sick in Fes, so we were just barely on the upswing when we arrived in Marrakech. We took our customary tea and cookies in the courtyard, which is a gorgeous haven of white carved stucco, climbing vines, and pops of blue and turquoise (ever-ready for the decor-loving Instagrammer). Continue reading

Out and About in Fes, Morocco

It’s May, and I’ve (sort of) nearly made it through recapping our trip last year to Spain and Morocco – we’ve covered Brighton on a layover, Madrid, Seville, and the eats and the hotel in Fes. Now, on to what we DID in Fes, with the final piece of the puzzle (Marrakech) and our home-going layover still to come! Whew. Thanks for sticking with me.

Before I get to the fun stuff, though, a setting of the stage and a little cautionary tale on what not to do in Fes: we arrived at the airport, confident in our abilities to navigate Morocco just as easily as we had Spain. That was our first mistake.

Arriving in Morocco

The Boy speaks French, and we (thought we) negotiated a taxi rate from the airport to our hotel. This was our second mistake. Continue reading

Dogwood 2018 Photography Challenge: Weeks 18-19

Week 18 – Wildcard: Photographer’s Choice [Shot with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM]
Capture an image on your terms; who, what, where, when, why, how … it’s all up to you. Caveat: You must tell us your intent.

I definitely had an intent – and a vision – for this challenge, which was to capture “a sunset in a glass.” I think it came out a bit more photoshopped than I would have liked, but the overall effect is there.

Dogwood Week 18

Week 19 – Vision: Edge Cut Sun [Shot with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM]
Having an edge cut through the sun looks nice, or having the sun rising over a line or diagonal within the photo. Stop down the aperture to create a starburst. Continue reading